Banned Words—Dr. Larry Burriss

Political Correctness

Banned Words

This is Banned Book Week, but since books are made of words, perhaps we need to also take a look at banned words. After all, if you ban words, pretty soon books will, by default, also be banned.
Here are just some of the words some people and organizations have recently tried to ban: dinosaurs, home computer, hurricane, birthday, dancing, all forms of religious holidays, including Christmas, Yom Kippur and Ramadan, and politics. And why are the words being banned: because apparently, they might upset some of the children who see them.

They might also be so-called “trigger words” that could upset some overly sensitive people.
So let me see if I understand this: some people expect schools to teach history and social studies, and do it without mentioning politics. And they are somehow going to teach about weather and not mention hurricanes.
Of course, every one of the words on these lists are routinely found in books, literature and newspapers. So maybe the people who dreamed up this idea is going to ban books, literature and newspapers from the school as well.

Speaking of books, we all know of lots of books that have been banned, including dictionaries, which by their very nature are loaded with offensive words. But now we have entire lists of apparently innocuous words that have been declared off limits.
Once again, we have political correctness run amuck. So let’s see what else we should ban: everything dealing with cars because some people can’t afford them, and they cause pollution. We shouldn’t teach English because it might offend immigrants. We probably need to completely leave out history because I can’t think of anything historical that doesn’t offend someone.

So here’s a thought, maybe we should have students write 500 word essays, and give a prize to the one who coherently uses the most banned words.
I’m Larry Burriss.

Larry Burriss, a professor in Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication and president of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, welcomes the crowd before the induction ceremonies at the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters conference in Murfreesboro for the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)